Majority of voters in three swing states saw ads on social media questioning election validity: poll


The majority of voters in three key swing states said they saw ads on social media questioning the validity of this year’s election, according to a new poll.

Fifty-four percent of voters in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Ohio who identify as regularly using social media said they had seen ads on their social media feeds questioning the validity of the U.S. election for the last month or longer, based on the YouGov poll released Friday. 

The poll was conducted on behalf of Global Witness, an advocacy organization pushing for tighter regulations on tech companies. 

Of the 54 percent of respondents who said they had seen ads questioning the validity of the election, 19 percent said they could “rarely” or “never” identify who was funding those ads. 

The survey excluded registered voters who were not “regular users of social media,” defined by pollsters as having used Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, TikTok, Reddit and YouTube in the past seven days. 

The poll found that half of respondents said targeted political ads hinder U.S. democracy, and indicated voters want more restrictions on targeted ads and transparency for political ads on social media. 

Sixty-one percent of respondents said social media companies should do more to provide information on how online advertising has been targeted, and 68 percent said political ads should be viewable by anyone, rather than being targeted at specific groups. 

Tech giants have taken steps to amend or create policies regarding political advertising on their platforms since the 2016 presidential election. Twitter last year said it would ban all political advertisements on the site. 

Facebook has not banned political advertising, but the company created an Ad Library in 2018 that the company has touted as creating more transparency around political and social issue ads. Earlier this year Facebook updated its Ad Library to allow users to view the estimated target audience size for ads.

Facebook also said it would ban new political advertisements in the week leading up to Election Day, though the policy has not been implemented without fault. Facebook said Thursday “a number of unanticipated issues” caused ads to be paused that have already been running. Facebook said the issues affected “campaigns of both political parties.” 

The Global Witness/YouGov poll surveyed 1,500 registered voters in Wisconsin, Ohio and Pennsylvania. The poll was conducted between Oct. 13-16. The margin of error is 2.92 percent.

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